Title: The Jumbies |Author: Trayey Baptiste |Series: The Jumbies #1 |Genre: Middlegrade |240 pages
This was actually the first book I actively read with my bookclub. It was a totally new experience and I loved being part of it and spitball with them what might happen next. Although I still have to work on sticking to the sections and not reading the book all in one go.
Corinne La Mer isn’t afraid of anything. Not scorpions, not the boys who tease her, and certainly not jumbies. They’re just tricksters parents make up to frighten their children. Then one night Corinne chases an agouti all the way into the forbidden forest. Those shining yellow eyes that followed her to the edge of the trees, they couldn’t belong to a jumbie. Or could they? When Corinne spots a beautiful stranger speaking to the town witch at the market the next day, she knows something unexpected is about to happen. And when this same beauty, called Severine, turns up at Corinne’s house, cooking dinner for Corinne’s father, Corinne is sure that danger is in the air. She soon finds out that bewitching her father, Pierre, is only the first step in Severine’s plan to claim the entire island for the jumbies. Corinne must call on her courage and her friends and learn to use ancient magic she didn’t know she possessed to stop Severine and save her island home.
There were many things I liked and loved about this book, so it’s probably best to start from there.
I loved the overall air of the book. It’s all about a simple life on an island, where most of the day consists of fishing and selling produce at the market, where hard and honest work is everything and where children play in the dusty streets with slingshots and sticks and swim in rivers and help their parents with their work. There was something simple and honest about it and I really liked that.
With this simple life come the legends, the imps and monsters and witches and ghosts. With it come the Jumbies. I loved the depiction of the Jumbie or the other demons that roam the forest where no human should ever go. Little demons that look like children with inverted feet that steal kids. Huge dogs wrapped in chains, fire demons.
It was new to me and fresh and I loved experiencing it.
The story in itself was fascinating and engaging. A Jumbie, a demon, trying to take over the island by trying to bring the main character Corinne (and her father) over to her side and by trying to overrun the whole island and rid it of the humans? Bring it. It was great, it was thrilling, it was a little scary. I loved it all.
What I’m not entirely sure about, is the main character Corinne.
Corinne has the air of a girl that is used to be on her own a lot and to be the woman of the house. She seemed to be determined to be all grown up, even though she’s only eleven, and to be of use and make her father proud. This makes her brave and outspoken but also bossy and headstrong. I couldn’t quite bring myself to like her too much because while I understood her behaviour I also saw how it made her treat her friends and I didn’t like that.
I did like the other characters in the story though. The witch and the Jumbie, Corinne’s friends. They were intersting and brave and maybe a little cocky. I’m almost sad to say that I found them more likable than the main character.
All in all, it was an easy to read book. It was a fast read with short chapters and an interesting plot line. That was what ultimately carried the story and made me carry on and maybe even interested in the other books in the series.